Tag Archives: friends

Protect Yourself From Online Phishing

It is always phishing season in cyberspace.  And nothing is sacred.  Hackers can get into your address book and send emails to you that appear to be from a friend.  Emails that look like they are from a known vendor or trusted brand name can appear in your inbox and ask you for login information to your account.  And then there are IRS scams, prize scams and all those oversees emails that come from someone in dire need (of your money).

How do you really know what message to trust anymore?  Here are a few things to consider before opening that next email.

Don’t click email links from “trusted” vendors.

We all sign up for emails from our bank, phone and internet company and tons of online vendors we use for personal and business transactions.  These emails can be informative in that they alert us to outstanding bills, sales, and new products.  It is for this reason spammers often try to replicate brand image of these trusted vendors and send out these fake email blasts and try to get customers to turn over their account information.

Best Practice: Do an independent internet search of your vendors and bookmark their website.  If you are still receiving paper bills you can also find their web address there. Just type it into your browser and then bookmark it.  Always go to that bookmark when logging into your account. Never click on the link in the email.

Emails with only a link in them are SPAM!

Emails coming in that have nothing more than a link in the body should be deleted immediately.  Do not click the link.  It will likely unleash some type of software that will run the spectrum of nuisance to destructive and possibly try to send its self out to your contacts as well. Speaking of contacts, you will likely receive this kind of email from someone you know, because they were hacked.

Be careful about updating your computer and software at a website’s suggestion.

Just as with opening emails from “trusted” vendors, be cautious about updating your system or web browser via links another website offers. If they are asking you to update your browser or other software needed to use their website than locate that third party by independent means.

Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 8.42.18 PM

This is a screen shot from “About Firefox” which I pulled up within the app.  Many applications have this feature built in so you can update directly from the app.

Do not trust pop up screens.

Whether surfing the internet on a mobile device or full computer screen there may come a time when your screen/device is taken over by a pop up screen indicating  that you “have won…” or that your device is infected and you must call tech support.  They provide the phone number and everything.  Do not click the link and do not call the phone number. There will not always be a button you can click to close the window.  Many of these try to force the recipient into clicking the link or an “OK” button.

Best Practice: Close the app completely. Then re-open it.  If the problem persists,  close the app again and power off your device. This usually disables the malicious intrusion.

If all else fails, I have clicked “OK” and then been redirected to the website where I can claim my “prize”.  From there I close the page and the app without clicking on anything in the website. I also do a virus scan on my device.

Keep your antivirus software up-to-date and scan regularly.

My favorite anti-virus products are Intego for Mac and PC as well as Norton products.  They offer very reasonable pricing to cover a multi-computer home and many now have the capability of scanning mobile devices. The software can be set to scan automatically as well as handle manual scan requests.

Consider working some or all of this into your regular online routine to reduce the risk of being caught up in a phishing scam.



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Social Media Literacy for Parents and Kids Part 1

Hey kids (and parents too)!  Social media is here to stay, with new sites popping up every day.  It’s overwhelming to try to keep up with it all but you can’t ignore it.  Social Media is a fun and useful tool, but because it is so easy to use we take too many liberties online and throw all social etiquette out the window.  Whether you are a card carrying member of social media or not, it’s in your best interest to keep your finger on the pulse of its evolution and maintain a dialog with friends and family about responsible use.

Friends Redefined

The first social norm to be turned on its head through social media is the concept of friends.  A friend is a confidant whose trust is earned over time.  It is very true, that if you can count your real friends on one hand you are a wealthy person.  They celebrate the good times with you, stand with you during the bad and do not pass judgment on you during your lowest moments.

If you belong to Facebook all contacts are labeled “friends”.  Even if you set it up for business, contacts are friends.  It is so easy to be liked on Facebook and to connect with others on other social networks that before you know it you have 300+ friends or contacts from different areas of your life all melded into one pot.  It becomes too easy to forget yourself and post something for all to see that you would only share in certain circles.

Social media makes it very easy for users to broadcast their every thought, feeling and action of the day.   Things are no longer private once they leave the confines of your brain as a thought and pass through your lips as words or your fingers as you type a post.  Anything you broadcast out through social media is there to be seen, shared and maybe judged by audiences both intended, and potentially unintended.

Social Media is The Digital Diary That Follows You Forever

Why should you care who sees your posts?

A picture is worth a thousand words, and although it may not tell the whole story it may be just enough to cast the wrong impression of you in the eyes of someone considering your college admissions, job application or internship placement.

Don’t think you are “friends” with that teacher who gave you too much homework or work colleague you just ranted about?   You don’t have to be.  Depending on privacy settings, if you share a mutual connection they may be able to see some of your posts depending on what area of a site you post on.  Connections may be able to share your comments on their own area of the site…..and you don’t have control over who sees that.  The person you rant about today may be the person you need a recommendation from tomorrow.  Don’t take a chance with your future by burning bridges you have yet to cross. Work out your frustrations somewhere else….bowling maybe?

Let’s talk about those photos you posted from that crazy homecoming party…or any crazy photos you posted.  I am sure you thought you took those down after you thought things through.  Once introduced to the internet, content is not so easily removed.  You may think you removed photos and posts from your page but if it was copied and shared by others before it was removed it is still out there and may resurface without warning.  Even if you employ the strictest security settings allowed through a site, never under estimate technology.  All someone has to do is take a snap shot of your post from their computer screen and post it as a picture or even email it directly to someone.

Respect Is a Two Way Street

You have boundaries, whether you think so or not, and you want them to be honored in life and in social media. Just because you can post anything and everything on social media does not mean you should. Before you post, ask yourself…

Is it really my news to share?

We all are interconnected in the ways we celebrate the good and grieve over the bad, but there is an etiquette in doing so.  If it did not happen to you directly, don’t share it.  Don’t talk about other people’s plans for school, jobs, relationships or life in general, unless they are posting it themselves.  Post about only those things that pertain to you and will not break a confidence or privacy barrier of someone else.  You would not want to spoil a surprise that was not yours to tell, or worse, have someone read about bad news that they were supposed to hear in person from someone else.

Will It Hurt Someone Else?

Sadly, inflicting pain is a goal of cyber bullying.  The goal is to embarrass and humiliate the other person.  It is easy to do because often the interaction between bully and victim is indirect. The bully writes their posts when they feel like it.  Posts can run the gamut of extremely viscous to “death by a thousand paper cuts” – pun intended. I’m not trying to be cute or funny here.  Do a search on cyber bullying and you will see that, yes, death can be a serious and permanent outcome. Cyber bullying in any form blind-sides the victim when they least expect it in a very public, yet indirect way that is hard to respond to without inviting more ridicule.

You know viscous cyber bullying when you see it.  “Death by a thousand paper cuts” is a little harder to identify because it comes in the form of little insults that are meaningless on their own merit but can have a big, negative impact if they build up over time, in frequency and with the intent to cause discomfort.  This is why it is just as easy to cause embarrassment and humiliation to others without meaning too.

A lot of communication is lost in writing when tone cannot be heard and facial expressions not seen. Given it is so easy for one to acquire contacts you also do not know the strength of relationships.  You could be “liking” or commenting in a communication string that has much deeper meaning for someone than you are aware.  You can never be too sure where other people’s sensitivities lie or how something you write may be interpreted.  You won’t always know you hit a nerve until it’s too late.  It may be days until you see some of the people who saw your post.  Not everyone will tell you directly how they feel but they may distance themselves from you in certain ways. Your post + someone else’s like = not a real conversation.  Social media is not a replacement for real interpersonal interaction with others. Be careful what communication strings you join, what you post about others and even how you joke.

Am I Willing to Live with the Consequences of My Posts?

At some point you have to be you.  Every time we crack a joke or share an opinion we reveal a little something of our values.  People will either like it or they won’t and, where there may be a void of information, people may also fill in the blanks with their own assumptions.  That may not amount to anything or it could generate conflict in your personal, work and school relationships. Fair? No, but it happens and you need to be prepared to deal with other people’s feelings about what you broadcast.  In other words, be prepared for a real conversation.

Social media is a great way to share interests and ideas, stay connected with classmates and colleagues and even see other parts of the world.  Some of my favorite posts are pictures my connections post of their travels.  I share crochet tips with some of my other connections.  I have a page I use for work related updates to the community.  Social media has purpose and when used appropriately can be a very effective and fun tool.  When misused, social media can also be effective in creating some real problems for you and others.  Just because you can post it, does not mean you should post it.  Respect yourself and others and think before you post.

Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest

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